After clothes and books, the next step in the KonMari Method is to declutter your paperwork. Most homes contain ridiculous amounts of paperwork. Kondo states that her clients usually discard two 45-litre bags, with the most (at the time of writing her book) being 15 bags full of the stuff.
If you’ve missed the previous posts in my KonMari series, I recommend you check them out first. You can find them HERE.
As with the previous categories, the primary strategy for tackling paperwork is to go through the house and gather everything up, then pile it up in one space. The difference here is not to ask if each paper sparks joy, but to see whether or not it is necessary to keep them.
Papers that must be kept: These can be split into two types – contractual documents (such as warranties for electrical appliances and insurance policies) and others (birth/marriage certificates, passports, tax documents and the like). Marie suggests that you should store warranties in a single, clear file, without sorting them in any specific way. You can remove any expired policies as and when you go through them and discarded accordingly.
Documents that need attention: This category is for letters that you need to reply to, bills that you need to pay, forms you need to fill in, and newspapers that you intend to read. You should store these in one place, and not scattered around the house. The aim here is to deal with these papers as quickly as possible and then discard them. An empty ‘needs attention’ box is the goal.
Aside from the two categories above, Kondo states that you should discard everything else. Manuals for computers and cameras, for example, can easily be found through a quick search on Google should you need to look something up, so these are seen as disposable. In this digital age, the majority of documents are available online should you happen to need them in the future, so there is no real need to keep printed copies of them in the home.
How it went
I won’t lie, this category was a toughie! We had a LOT of paperwork to get through, but it was so worth the effort! I’m not sure that my poor shredder will never forgive me, but it survived.
A large percentage of the papers in our home were related to blogging. As I have most of the information stored on the computer, I managed to reduce these papers by around 75%. My office space looks a whole lot better now without the overwhelming amount of files stacked on the shelves.
The majority of the documents that I kept are medical records for my eldest son, as these are often required for the various appointments that he attends.
Although this category was considerably more time-consuming than the previous ones, going through our collection of paperwork has had the most significant impact on our home. The piles of unsorted documents have disappeared, and the house feels lighter somehow.
I now sort through the mail as soon as it enters the house, discarding the junk and empty envelopes. Actionable items go in the ‘needs attention’ tray, and I check through banking documents. I then put them through the shredder so that I don’t end up with a massive pile of paperwork to shred at a later date.
I respond to school letters on the same day I receive them, mark important dates on the calendar. The necessary forms I return to the school the following morning. This way, I don’t end up running around in a flap the night before a school trip hunting for the permission slip.
Has paperwork taken over your home? I urge you to give the KonMari method a try! Drop me a comment and let me know how you get on.